The public mourning of Dr. Urbino to Florentino's encounter with Fermina at the Doctor's wake

Three days of mourning are declared for Dr. Juvenal Urbino, and even the common people grieve for the death of such an esteemed man. A group from the School of Fine Arts creates a "death mask" to be used as a mold for a life-sized bust of the Doctor, but the project is cancelled because such an accurate rendering of his final, terrified expression is deemed indecent. Similarly, a famous artist renders Urbino's fatal move with stunning realism: the Doctor's arm outstreched towards the parrot. However, the artist changes one detail. He paints Urbino in the bowler hat and black frock coat he had worn during the days of the cholera epidemic, not in the outfit he had been wearing on the day of his death. The painting is displayed at a gallery for all to see, and is eventually hung in the School of Fine Arts, though, many years later, it is destroyed by students who protested its embodiment of a time and an aesthetic they despised.

Fermina Daza is not alone and helpless without her husband, as he had feared she would be, but is composed, and adamant that her husband's body will not be used for any cause, and is to remain in her home until the funeral, for private vigil with friends and family. Despite the tragedy, Fermina remains in complete self-control. Initially, she had been hopeful; she had seen Urbino's eyes, open and radiant, as he lay on the ground, and she had prayed to God to let him live another moment so that she could tell him how much she had loved him, regardless of their doubts. But soon this hope gave way to fury, which is what provided her the courage and control to attain composure. Standing beside his body during the vigil, Fermina Daza removes her wedding band and places it on her dead husband's finger, covers his hand with hers, and tells him that they will see one another very soon.

Florentino Ariza, the President of the River Company of the Caribbean, is hurt that Fermina has not recognized him among the crowd of people at the vigil, for it is he who, with the utmost efficiency, implements order at the chaotic gathering. He even captures the escaped parrot when it appears in the dining room. Florentino, who, as always, is dressed in morbid black clothing, has tried his best to conceal his seventy-six years of age.

An enormous crowd is expected at Dr. Urbino's funeral, but a torrential rain reduces the attendance. Florentino attends despite the rains, and stays until the end of the service. When he returns home, soaking wet, he is petrified he will catch pneumonia after "many years of care and excessive precautions." He medicates himself until he feels fully recovered, then attends the wake. Fermina bids farewell to the last of the mourners, and suddenly recognizes Florentino. She is pleased because she has not seen him in many years, and had erased him from her memory.

Florentino tells Fermina that he has waited for this "opportunity" for over half a century, to repeat to her his vow of "eternal fidelity and everlasting love." Fermina stifles her impulse to curse him, and orders him out of her house, demanding that he never return in all the years of his life, and that she hopes those years are few. For the first time in her life, she realizes the magnitude of the "drama" she had provoked at the age of eighteen, and for the first time since her husband's death, weeps in solitude. She prays to God to send her death that night, though as she sleeps, she sobs, and is fully is conscious that she is living. That morning, she awakes to realize that, as she wept, she had thought more about Florentino than she had about her husband.